EVO Edition debuts just three years after race car introduction
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – Introduced in 2020, the Toyota Supra GT4 that competes in the Grand Sport (GS) class of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge is still pretty new in terms of racing cars.
But Toyota has been aggressive in developing a race-winning package for existing and future customers. So in just three years in which the Supra has earned over 50 race wins, 100 podium finishes and 11 GT4-based sports car championships in Japan, Europe and America, Toyota Gazoo Racing has developed an EVO upgrade designed to make performance the maximum possible. The Supra GT4 is more accessible to all drivers.
“We aim to reduce the time difference between pairs of drivers,” explained Steve Hallam, vehicle support and team development manager for Toyota Racing Development (TRD). “The Supra is small, with a very short wheelbase, so it is very responsive to driver input. Professional drivers love it, like Aaron Telitz (a Lexus driver in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship). For them, the car is a pleasure to drive and very fast.
“We needed to help the gentleman driver,” Hallam continued. “They will be able to feel the car better and drive it with more confidence. The car will still be fast because the basics haven’t changed, but we’ve added tools to help other drivers.”
Based in Cologne, Germany, Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe is Toyota’s competition workshop that designs and builds vehicles ranging from the World Rally Championship Yaris to the GR010 hypercar that won this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and recently won the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship. Since 2020, over 50 Supra GT4 racing cars have been produced.
Chassis modifications to the Supra GT4 EVO include revised dampers, a modified rear anti-roll bar, and upgraded brakes, including reconfigured anti-lock braking system (ABS) software.
The bodywork received front dive planes for improved aerodynamic stability, as well as a modified rear wing that would allow teams to make mid-race adjustments if necessary.
While the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six is largely unchanged, the overall cooling of the car – engine, intercooler, gearbox and final drive – has been improved.
“We are racing in the hottest venues around the world and the needle is on the wrong end of the scale,” Hallam said. “We have solved this problem, and this year (in 2023) such stress will not happen again.”
The Supra GT4 showed great potential in the Michelin Pilot Challenge, especially the No. 14 car presented by Riley Motorsports. Alfredo Najiri was one of the leaders taking third place in 2022 at Sebring International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The car’s base speed was never questioned, but customer feedback indicated that the Supra needed to be made more “user-friendly” so it could accommodate the less experienced drivers that often make up the majority of GT4 fields.
“The GT4, like any Performance Balance category, is about more than just performance,” Hallam said. “You don’t spend huge sums of money trying to improve the performance of your car unless you are outside the target window.
“So what you do with the EVO package is respect the needs of the customers by making it easy for them to drive or use the features they already have so they can enjoy racing.”
Hallam, whose long career in motorsport includes Formula One (he has worked as a race engineer for Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna and Mika Häkkinen, among others), NASCAR and Australian Supercars, said TRD was heavily involved in the development of the Supra GT4. TRD’s lead engineer, John Morgan, attended the final test sessions before the vehicle’s homologation.
The Riley Motorsports entry has often been the only Supra on the Michelin Pilot Challenge grid in 2022, so Toyota is hoping the introduction of the EVO package will increase its presence in the upcoming season. The first round is the BMW M Endurance Challenge, a four-hour event taking place on Friday, January 27th at Daytona International Speedway.
(Images courtesy of Toyota)